That question may sound quite negative to you. It may sound more like a burden than a blessing. But God made it clear to Israel that His requirements were essential to their relationship with Him. God requires no less of His people today. To experience redemption from the life of sin and death, to know God, and to have an abundant, eternal life with Him, we, too, must meet His requirements.
It was one of the darkest times in the history of God’s people. Because of their shocking sinfulness they suffered untold horrors from the Babylonians especially during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. In Lamentations (3:21-25), Jeremiah mourns over them, but he also shines four rays of light from the LORD upon them to brighten their future.
Hope is the first ray of light: “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope” (v. 21). Jeremiah brought a message of hope to the people. It was not a just the wishful thinking of a naïve optimist nor was it based on chance like that of the gambler. No, it was the LORD that he had in mind. His hope rested upon the LORD. Without Him there is no hope but with Him there is always hope.
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” (1 Peter 4:8).
Love is first, foremost, superior to everything else (Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 13:13). It must be fervent, intense, enthusiastic, unceasing because it will cover a multitude of sins. What we need more than anything else is to love God and to love one another from the heart fervently!
We all offend one another. We should not want to and should try not to, but sometimes we do; sometimes without even realizing it. When we see that we have offended someone it should make us feel very bad. We should apologize and ask their forgiveness. We should try and make it right. We should try and be careful not to make the same mistake again, yet sometimes we do.
How do you respond to those you feel have mistreated you? Do you lash out in anger? Are you hostile? Do you withdraw, cutting off all ties? Do you turn on yourself?
Such negative responses are very harmful to all involved, especially to you. They will only hinder reconciliation and may destroy your relationship altogether. You are allowing the other person to determine how you feel and act. This is very enslaving and will ruin your life.
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all…” 1 Thessalonians 3:12
It is easy for us to criticize others. We all seem to be very quick to find fault in everybody else but ourselves. Seldom do we take the time to understand the underlying causes of their perceived weaknesses. If we knew more about their life we might be more compassionate and if we were honest it might lead us to admit that we are no better.
It is hard for us to help others until we first humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. No one can argue with the fact that we all fall far short of His glory. Every one of us suffers from problems of the heart like anger, jealousy, pride and malice. Our tongue constantly slips. Time and time again we make mistakes with our life. There is not a one of us who doesn’t need forgiveness, mercy, patience and love.
It is good for us to remember how we have been treated by God so that we will know how to treat others. God loved us when we were unlovable. He gave His Son for us while we were still sinners. He continues to help us though we often fail to be grateful. He never gives up on us even when we have given up on Him. There are a lot of angry, hurting, lost people who just need someone like you and me to love them just like we have been loved by God.
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” 1 Peter 4:8
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135